Mahdi Ali satisfied as UAE edge Jordan during Asian Cup preparation in Australia
A late goal by Haboush Saleh on Tuesday in a friendly match on the Gold Coast gave the UAE a 1-0 win over Jordan and left coach Mahdi Ali expressing his satisfaction with his squad’s preparation ahead of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia.
The squad has been training at their base on the Gold Coast, 80 kilometres east of Brisbane, over the past week and this was their first taste of competitive action on Australian soil. The team will have another friendly on Saturday against Kuwait before heading south to the Australian capital Canberra, where they will play their first two group matches.
One notable absentee was star man Omar Abdulrahman who played no part as the coach took the opportunity to have a look at as many players as possible form his squad.
“We tried to give as many members of the squad as we could an opportunity to show how ready they are,” he said.
“Especially the ones returning from injury like Amer Abdulrahman and Walid Abbas, who performed well like the rest of their colleagues.”
He also conveyed his delight at the form of goalkeepers Majed Nasser and Khalid Eissa, who played a half each.
The UAE’s best chance of the first half came when the referee pointed to the spot after a foul on the advancing Mohammed Abdulrahman.
Ahmed Khalil drove the penalty firmly enough but Amer Shafia guessed correctly, saving to his right.
The Emirati midfield also managed to create several opportunities to the front pairing of Khalil and Ali Mabkhout, who failed to capitalise, before Abdulaziz Haikal’s drive was again saved by Shafia, who later injured his shoulder and had to be replaced.
In the second half, Mahdi Ali rang the changes, introducing Abdulaziz Sanqour for Haikal, and then he replaced forwards Ismail Al Hamadi and Khalil with Haboush and midfielder Habib Al Fardan.
The result was more pressure from the UAE with the Jordanians relying mostly on quick counter attacks.
After several other substitutions, the breakthrough finally came after an 84th minute corner by Abdulrahman was cleared only as far as Haboush, who finished decisively past substitute keeper Motez Yassin.
Minutes later Mabkhout had a chance to double the lead but hit the side netting after skipping past the goalkeeper.
Mahdi Ali also praised the facilities at the squad’s training camp and reiterated that the preparation towards the opening match against new Gulf Cup champions Qatar on January 11 had been excellent.
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Published: December 30, 2014 04:00 AM